Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
“Finally, there is a chance that the lob sided activism in Marin will come under fire.”
Google finds thousands of examples. https://www.google.com/search?q=“lob+sided”
What do you think the lob siders are thinking, jc? Is there a new imagery associated with being lob sided, or is a pure malapropism? Lob apparently comes from words associated with hanging, suspension, as if a ball lobbed in the air would hang up there for an instant. Is that sense playing a role?
Native Americans and French Voyageurs would trim pine trees as landmarks – these were known as lob pines
This discussion notes that “Lob as I understand it is to throw. Lop is to cut off or remove. Just an observation…”
The tree pictured in the discussion looks fairly symmetrical, not at all lop-sided—it just has some middle branches removed but some high ones remaining.
The OED doesn’t have this usage of “lob,” but does have “lop-stick n. (also lobstick) (Canadian) a tree which has had its branches lopped and the name of the lopper cut in its trunk.”
It seems a bit odd that Native Americans and French Voyageurs would use a word with Middle English roots. Perhaps there is another derivation.
There are many instances of “lob sided” referring to haircuts where the hair is shorter on one side than the other: https://www.google.com/search?q=“lob+sided”+hair&tbm=isch
In that case, it appears to be a blended word, made from lop+bob, used by people who don’t know the meaning of “lop”. They know they want a word that sounds something like “lop” and they end up with lob instead.
The visual they end up with makes sense, in a way. Imagine 2 tennis hits, one a smashing hit and the other a high arc lob. This visual is lop-sided, or lob-sided. Lob sided activism sounds like a group that gets all riled up but then doesn’t do anything substantial – like a lob that goes high up in the air, but doesn’t win (is easily returned by the other player).
Or maybe it is just a dumb mistake and not an eggcorn after all. :-)